The meaning of leisure

This is a quite interesting article whose story is not quite revealed by its title, The Value of Work. Let me provide some of the text as a way to encourage you to read it all. It is about the US but has implications everywhere. It seems that people want more from their jobs than just a means to pay the bills, which hardly surprises me since that is what I wanted myself.

It seems 2021 was the year of “footloose and fancy-free.” That’s the impression one would get, at least, from employment trends. Almost 39 million Americans said “au revoir” to their employers in 2021. September alone saw a record-breaking 4.4 million employees voluntarily quitting their jobs. Labor economists are still busy crunching numbers, trying to make sense of this “Great Resignation.”…

My age cohort [late 30s early 40s] is extremely confused about work. Throughout our lives, we have struggled to answer the most basic questions about its meaning and significance. Why do human beings work? What sort of work is most fulfilling and honorable? What do dedicated workers deserve, from employers, the state, or society at large?…

When people expect work to fulfill their deepest hopes and dreams, reality will generally disappoint. This may partly explain why an event like Covid could trigger a flurry of resignations. Even if their current jobs are acceptable, workers want more. Why settle for a job that merely pays the bills, when things could be so much better?…

If the Great Resignation has taught us anything, it is this. No one fully understands what is happening in American labor markets. Our economy is still changing rapidly, but that’s not the only variable. Workers are changing too. Both conservatives and liberals are coming to see the defects in the paradigms that dominated their approach to labor across the last 40 years.

But no matter how you slice it, if we are going to go to cafes and travel the world people will need to work behind the scenes to allow it to happen. Even a day at the beach requires an enormous collective communal effort. Work can give a person meaning, but there are other ways to make sense of one’s life as well. We are not yet in an automated world where human effort can be reduced to a minimum.

But it may be coming and sooner than we might think.


2 thoughts on “The meaning of leisure

  1. “Be fruitful…” (Gen 1:28). Since we are endowed with the same type of character as a very creative God, we will always have a desire to be creative (or fruitful) too. We have free-will to do whatever we want though “everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial” 1 Cor 10:23.

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